CDP vows to tackle plastic pollution by expanding environmental disclosure system

The expansion will include the addition of questions and metrics on plastics into CDP’s annual disclosure questionnaires, beginning with a pilot in 2023.

CDP warned that, despite the scale of the plastic pollution problem and the extent of its impacts, many companies still have a limited understanding of how they contribute to it and their exposure to related commercial, legal, and reputational risks.

Plastic pollution has been shown to be an important issue for companies and capital markets.

Responding to a consultation run by CDP in 2022, 88% of companies said plastic was a relevant issue and a third (32.5%) did not have plastic-related targets.

Meanwhile, 81% of responding capital markets and supply chain members said that the information requested by CDP on plastics would be useful to inform financial or procurement decisions.

Given the wealth of existing best practice and leadership on the topic, CDP’s approach will be collaborative and informed by existing frameworks, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment framework, which has been running since 2018.

CDP chief impact officer Nicolette Bartlett said: “CDP’s approach is based on our knowledge that governments, companies and investors cannot manage what they do not measure, so expanding knowledge and data on corporate plastic use, obtained through disclosure at scale, is essential to solving the plastics problem.

“With over 13,000 companies worth 64% of global market capitalization already disclosing through CDP, our disclosure system is uniquely positioned to scale disclosure on plastics across the global economy.

“Not only will this drive corporate action to reduce plastic pollution, but it will also be critical in boosting transparency and accountability, redirecting capital towards sustainable activities and supporting governments to develop robust and ambitious policies.”

CDP’s disclosure system is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Minderoo Foundation, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Winnie Lau, project director for Pew’s preventing ocean plastics project, said: “Solving the plastic pollution problem benefits both people and the planet, but it requires a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the issue and can only be achieved through system wide change.

“This finding is detailed by the first-of-its-kind global modelling in our report ‘Breaking the Plastic Wave’. Pew, CDP, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Minderoo Foundation have come together with the collective ambition to build a plastics disclosure initiative that will rival those in existence for carbon emissions, helping companies understand and tackle their plastic footprints and, in turn, guide governments and financial institutions on their policy measures and sustainable investments.”

Minderoo Foundation chair and co-founder Andrew Forrest added: “We cannot fix a plastic pollution problem we do not wholly understand or see. Last year, we made huge progress in identifying who is financing the single-use plastic industry – the Plastic Waste Makers Index.

“But there is still so much to uncover. We urgently need this precise information to reward the businesses truly trying to end plastic pollution and call out businesses engaged in greenwashing. This will give policymakers the visibility they need to stop this problem once and for all.”

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s executive lead for systemic initiatives Rob Opsomer said:  “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, launched in 2018 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP, has created unprecedented transparency towards a circular economy for plastics, with companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally committing to and reporting on ambitious 2025 targets.

“Building on this momentum, the CDP framework will expand reporting on some of the key Global Commitment metrics, enabling thousands more businesses to track their progress towards a circular economy for plastics and providing valuable insights for investors and policymakers.”

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